I feel like I need to do some explaining about how I came up with Holy Cake Day and why I have finally decided to try to make it happen. This is an idea I got a couple of years ago when I was discussing with my husband about what we could do to make sweets a little less appealing for our first kid. At the time, I was not giving him any, but the offers from other people had started to increase and the truth is he is less and less under my control. While this is good in some ways, when it comes to food it can be tricky. And it can ruin all the hard work to keep the bad stuff out. Because of course kids will find sweets awesome and will want more!
So how could I make this less bad? One problem is that if I was to completely ban cake and sweets from our house, once my kids go out, they will devour tons of the forbidden stuff. But if I try to introduce decent versions, that are not filled and covered in sugar, at a decent interval as well, maybe they won’t feel like going crazy once they’re out of my sight. And maybe they won’t try to get out of my sight as often as possible so that they can have something sweet, because I never allow them any. My hope is that if they know that they will get a treat regularly, they will learn to consider that enough.
This is also the case for us as adults. I have a particularly strong sweet tooth and I know first-hand how difficult it can be to control the sweet cravings. This is not what I want for my kids. I want them to grow up making better decisions than me and having an easier time doing the right thing by their bodies. Eating less sugar is definitely a wise way to go forward.
As you may have noticed, I never use the words “good for you” or “healthy” when it comes to sweets in general, or to any of the treats I make, in particular. I do not believe sweets are healthy in any way. I do, however, believe they can be less bad. Not better, just less bad; not healthier, just less unhealthy. That is as good as it gets with sweets. You can use natural sugars, but they won’t make them good and healthy. You can use sweeteners, but I still don’t think they will become good for you. (The reason why I am not sold on sweeteners is different from the reason why I am against sugar, and I hope to be able to write about that soon.)
So here I was thinking about what to do to live with this evil that is all around us. For one, I cook at home and only very rarely serve ready-made stuff (think colicky baby screaming all day in your arms, not really an practical, feasible or safe way of cooking). But snacks are usually the killer for our good intentions when it comes to food. Don’t keep biscuits in the house (here replace biscuits with the sweet of your choice, doesn’t really make a difference). Sure, good advice, but every now and then we all cave and buy them and, sometimes, eat them all up and, indeed, we do not keep any in the house. We go out and biscuits are offered with our healthy choice of having tea. We go to see people and biscuits are offered on a plate at arm’s reach, even little arm’s reach. How many times can you say no? Can you always say no in your kid’s name and replicate the behaviour for yourself? Every time? I try to, and whenever we eat or have a drink out, I try to only have things I would not say no to for my kid. The only exception is coffee, which I drink unsweetened and without the inevitable biscuit that goes with it. Though I am a huge chocolate lover, if we are given a choice between a chocolate or white (I can’t always assign a flavour to these deserts) birthday cake, for instance, I will choose the white one so that my kid can see that I do what I allow him to do. It seems only fair.
One of the main reasons why I put off starting HCD was that it seemed like I would unnecessarily increase my kid’s sugar intake. And the reason why I finally started was that it also offered me a reason to say no to him asking for sweets during the week. You know we will have some during the week-end, we won’t be able to make the cake you have been looking forward to if you have sweets now. And it works. This way, I can trade a ready-made atrocity for something that is made out of real ingredients (eggs, whole wheat flour, milk, fruit) and with substantially less sugar added to it.
This is the sugar reason behind HCD. I also wanted a weekly family ritual. I don’t want our week-ends to be spent watching TV and lounging on the couch. I am not against movies, shows, cartoons, sports, etc. But that should not be the highlight of our week-ends. Doing something together should be. I am not very used to accepting everyone into my life, I am very selective, which is an understatement. It is not because I am mean, full of myself and pretentious; it is more of an instinct of self preservation. A bit of cowardice too; and a lot of shyness. And a huuuge fear that people won’t like and accept me for who I really am. I don’t always come across as any of the latter, but I am not supposed to show my weaknesses, says the little crazy voice in my head. A little voice I am trying very hard to mute. The rare times when this sort of works is when I spend time with the few people I have allowed into my life. And the only times when it actually works is not when we go for a night out, it is when we get closer to nature, when we are relatively alone and I can open up, when I can move and smell trees or water or soil.
While most of you may not be as weird as I am (or, who knows?), I do believe that we have not evolved to spend our time drinking ourselves silly in crowded, stuffy rooms with booming noise and no natural light. I am not judging, I have gone out myself quite a bit, but none of that going out has ever made me feel as good about myself in my own skin as the quieter times spent outside have. Why wouldn’t I do that more often then? And why wouldn’t I try to share this with my kids and hopefully help them grow up with a natural, healthy way of de-stressing and coming to terms with who they are? I am not delusional, I don’t think this will solve all of my, or their, problems. But I do think it can help. And I owe it to myself, and to them, to try it.
So why not combine things? A weekly treat with a weekly thing that actually makes me feel better. Not to mention that when I do feel positive about who I am, I don’t stuff my face with chocolate, I am happy with a cup of unsweetened tea. So what better time to have a treat than when I am not likely to eat everyone’s portions in hiding? Ta-daaa! The idea of Holy Cake Day was born.
Why do I call it that? It started as a joke, something that came out of my mouth without thinking too much, and I used it for lack of a better name. But the more I used it, the more I liked it; and the more appropriate it seemed to me. It is my holy day, and it happens to be cake day as well. So it’s Holy Cake Day.
I think it would be wonderful if other people would find that a Holy Cake Day is helpful to them. Not as an excuse to binge on sweets, but as a day to focus on the positives in our lives, connect with people around us, and only lastly, share a treat.